Shanghai to reduce PM2.5 20% by 2017

Updated: 2013-10-19 00:28

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai (China Daily)

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Eastern city unveils Clean Air Action Plan to protect environment

Shanghai unveiled its Clean Air Action Plan on Friday, which aims to reduce the concentration of PM2.5 by 20 percent to the 2012 level by 2017.

The plan, introduced in China's most populous city with nearly 24 million residents including 173,000 foreigners, included targets for pollution prevention in six sectors — energy, industry, transportation, construction, agriculture and social life.

"The frequency of heavy pollution will be significantly reduced by 2017. The air quality will better meet residents' expectations as well as the general qualifications of building an international metropolis," said Wu Qizhou, deputy director of the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau.

One of the highlighted measures in the Shanghai plan is forbidding coal burning, Wu said. More than 2,500 boilers and 300 industrial furnaces that use coal will be closed down or shifted to clean energy by 2015. Coal firing will be completely banned in 2017, the plan said.

The distribution of natural gas will be accelerated as well as the development and utilization of wind, solar and other renewable energies, Wu said.

In the industrial field, the authority will adopt more stringent emissions control and elevate the threshold of industry access with regard to emissions standards in chemical engineering, shipbuilding, printing and dyeing.

The Shanghai Commission of Economy and Information is revising the guidance for industries and working on a list of the industries that are encouraged, limited and those that should be eliminated.

"The threshold in Shanghai will be higher than its national counterparts. Some trades that are limited on the national list will be listed as those that will be weeded out in Shanghai. Projects in the areas of construction materials, coking and nonferrous metals that cause high pollution will be banned," said Ma Jing, chief engineer of the commission.

"The restrictions on high pollution enterprises won't bring pressure to the city's economic development. Our policy is to make room for businesses that bring benefits economically and environmentally," said Zhou Qiang, secretary-general of the Shanghai Commission of Development and Reform.

The construction of a green traffic system that gives priority to public transport will also be carried out. Research by the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau showed that traffic contributes to 25 percent of nitrogen dioxide and PM2.5 in the municipality.

"In 2015, the use of public transportation will reach 50 percent in downtown districts," said Pei Xiao, deputy chief engineer of the Shanghai Urban-Rural Construction and Transport Commission.

Vessels will also be required to use first-rate petrol to curb pollutants because Shanghai is a global port, Pei added.

The municipal government will establish an accountability system toward relevant departments and officials with a focus on air quality improvement and carry out annual assessments.

Statistics from the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau showed the average PM2.5 level in Shanghai from June 2012 to June 2013 was 56 micrograms per cubic meter. The level was high compared with international levels, experts said, but outmatched the national standard, 75.

"Shanghai needs to take other places in the Yangtze River Delta region into account for its pollution control plan. Joint efforts between the regions are necessary, and the measures should be synchronized," said Qian Hua, director of the research institute of atmospheric environment under the Shanghai Academy of Environmental Sciences.